A “shameful” abstention by the U.S. in a United Nations vote Friday allowed passage of a resolution condemning Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank.
The UN Security Council resolution was put forward by four nations a day after Egypt withdrew it Thursday under pressure from Israel and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump. Failure by the U.S. to veto the measure was seen as a double-cross of America’s key Middle Eastern ally, and attributed directly to outgoing President Barack Obama, who has had chilly relations with Israel throughout his eight-year tenure.
Reaction from U.S. Republicans and Jewish leaders around the world was swift and sharp.
“It was to be expected that Israel’s greatest ally would act in accordance with the values that we share and that they would have vetoed this disgraceful resolution,” said Israel’s Ambassador Danny Danon. “I have no doubt that the new U.S. administration and the incoming UN Secretary General will usher in a new era in terms of the UN’s relationship with Israel.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., blasted the Obama administration for undermining America’s historic Middle East ally.
“This is absolutely shameful,” Ryan said. “Today’s vote is a blow to peace that sets a dangerous precedent for further diplomatic efforts to isolate and demonize Israel.”
Obama just showed what a pr***, he is.
Minutes after the vote, Trump took to Twitter to express his opposition.
“As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th.”
Anne Bayefsky, director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust and president of Human Rights Voices, said the contention that settlements, and not Palestinian terrorism, is the obstacle to peace is false.
“This UN resolution represents the Big Lie of modern anti-Semitism,” Bayefsky said. “Palestinians’ backers on the Council, New Zealand and Malaysia, made today’s slander clear, claiming Jews living peaceful, productive lives on Arab-claimed land was the ‘single biggest threat to peace” and “primary threat to a two-state solution.’
“Seven decades of violent Palestinian rejection of a Jewish state prove otherwise,” she added.
The measure was adopted with 14 votes in favor, to a round of applause, after U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power abstained. It is the first resolution the Security Council has adopted on Israel and the Palestinians in nearly eight year.
After the vote, White House officials acknowledged on a conference that Obama made the decision himself after several rounds of discussions with top administration officials.
As for Trump, deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes pointedly said there’s only one president at a time – and that the Obama administration was concerned the Israelis’ pace of settlement activity could put the viability of a two-state solution at risk.
Israel believes it has the right to expand settlements in the disputed territories as populations within them expand. Palestinians do not believe the settlements should exist at all, and world condemnation of expansion is seen as a possible first in that direction.
The resolution, although it reiterates long-held U.N. policy, could be more than symbolic. While it does not call for imposing sanctions on Israel, its language could hinder Israel’s negotiating position in future peace talks. Given the widespread international opposition to the settlements, it would be nearly impossible for the Trump administration to reverse it.